Coronavirus entry and release in polarized epithelial cells: a review

Rev Med Virol. 2014 Sep;24(5):308-15. doi: 10.1002/rmv.1792. Epub 2014 Apr 16.


Most coronaviruses cause respiratory or intestinal infections in their animal or human host. Hence, their interaction with polarized epithelial cells plays a critical role in the onset and outcome of infection. In this paper, we review the knowledge regarding the entry and release of coronaviruses, with particular emphasis on the severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronaviruses. As these viruses approach the epithelial surfaces from the apical side, it is not surprising that coronavirus cell receptors are exposed primarily on the apical domain of polarized epithelial cells. With respect to release, all possibilities appear to occur. Thus, most coronaviruses exit through the apical surface, several through the basolateral one, although the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus appears to use both sides. These observations help us understand the local or systematic spread of the infection within its host as well as the spread of the virus within the host population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Coronavirus / genetics
  • Coronavirus / physiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / physiopathology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / virology
  • Humans
  • Virus Internalization*
  • Virus Release*